Barry Fitzpatrick wears the smile of a contented man after he was named Leinster Senior League Referee of The Year for 2019 at the recent awards night at Moran’s Red Cow Hotel.
The 44-year old whistler took up the profession 11 years ago and it’s a honour that fills him with a huge amount of pride – given the high standards within the league itself.
By Eamon Scott
“I’m thrilled with the award and I’m grateful to everyone who has helped me along the way,” said the prison officer who is based at Cloverhill.
“It’s not something you set out to win, but it’s nice recognition all the same and I’m chuffed to be deemed worthy of the honour. It’s not lost on me at all and I know just how good the standard is within the league, so to say I’m pleased is a big understatement.”
Since taking up refereeing in 2004 Barry has risen through the ranks and commands the respect of all his fellow knights of the whistle.
Fitzpatrick nameschecks the likes of Dave Fitzsimons, Eddie Reilly and Declan Troy as mentors who have been of huge assistance to him as he honed his skills which has seen him officiate at some of the leagues marquee games.
Last season he was in the middle for the Presidents Cup final at Whitehall with the pairing of the FAI Junior Cup winners and the IFA Cup winners which was won by North End United defeating Enniskillen Rangers 2-1 in a thrilling encounter.
Barry also took charge of the Leinster Senior League victory over the Scottish Amateurs at Abbottstown and was fourth ma at the Metropolitan Cup final.
One regret Barry has is not taking up refereeing earlier and he is enthusiastic about the role and the benefits to be gained from refereeing and the career path it offers
“I was in the Refereeing School of Excellence and it was great to be training with League of Ireland officials but I would have liked to have seen how far I could of gone in the game had I of started out earlier. I still really love refereeing and whether it’s a Senior Division or Division 3 league, it’s the same buzz and the great thing is that you are learning and picking up bits of knowledge which helps you improve your own ability as a referee all the time.”
Barry is also keen to keep his fitness levels up and regularly gets in a run during his lunchtime while the Altitude Fitness on the Longmile Road is another place he utilises along side the VEC in Terenure and the Brickfields.
Married to Karen, Barry has three children – Leanne, Ava and Ethan and and in his playing days lined our Walklinstown Athletic with home games in Bunting Road.
Barry would encourage anyone toying with the idea to give referring a go. I really should have taken it up earlier and it’s a genuine regret. It’s a great way of keeping fit and there is a great comradeship within the refereeing fraternity and you do make a lot of friends through the game and the ISRS.
Fitzpatrick also plays tribute to the assessor in the league such as Camillus Duffy and Jimmy Traynor, while , Victor Loughman and Tony Kearney are all held in high esteem by Barry for their wise old heads and the guidance they have so willingly offered along the way.
“I’m very grateful to everyone who has helped me, the advice and guidance is a very important part of becoming a better referee and I was delighted to see Shay Travers pick up an award on the night of the LSL presentation” said Barry
” Shay has been very good to me and I know he has helped many younger referees along the way so to see him win recognition was simply brilliant.”
Added Barry: “Without the grading and assessment by the assessor I wouldn’t get the games I get, so there input is invaluable not just for me but for all my colleagues too.”
He also reserves high praise for the Leinster Senior League and how professional the league is in its business of providing football for close to 9000 adult players annually at both junior and intermediate level.
” Dave Moran and his team really are first class. For what is essentially an amateur body, they are thoroughly professional and it’s a credit to each and every member of the league executive and all the divisional secretries that it is run so efficiently and you can understand why clubs want to join the biggest adult league under the FAI’s jurisdiction because of how well it is run.”
Fitzpatrick’s refereeing career still has many years left in the tank but he sees the older referees as being great advisors for the less experienced and it’s a hallmark of the friendship that exists with the league and the Irish Soccer Referees Society that advice and support is so freely available for so many sources
“No matter what level you officiate at you are always picking up bits of advice and you are constantly improving your game and that’s a great part of being a referee as you look to improve yourself all the time,” says Barry
As 2019 Leinster Senior League Referee of the Year Barry Fitzpatrick has shown just how much he has learned in the previous 11 years that has now seen him elevated to the standout individual award among his peers.
His no nonsense common sense approach has earned Fitzpatrick respect among his own fraternity but also among the players of the league who know just how good a match official he is…..and now he had the medals to prove it!